Card Factory joins retailers’ float rush

Card Factory is looking to use the cash from its planned flotation to expand. Picture: Russell Sach
Card Factory is looking to use the cash from its planned flotation to expand. Picture: Russell Sach
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Card Factory yesterday became the latest retailer to announce plans to float on the stock market in a move expected to value the business at £700 million.

The Yorkshire-based company, which has more than 700 shops, is expected to raise £90m in next month’s offer which will follow recent successful listings by, McColls, Pets at Home and Poundland.

Claims firm National Accident Helpline, which specialises in no-win, no-fee injury claims, also yesterday announced flotation plans.

Card Factory, which focuses on the value and mid-market segments of the UK’s £3 billion-a-year greeting cards market, said the issuing of new shares to institutional investors will allow it to pay down debt.

It is also looking to expand its store estate to more than 1,200 sites in the UK and Ireland over the next ten years.

The float will enable private equity firm Charterhouse to sell some of the shares it bought in securing a majority stake in the business from founders Dean and Janet Hoyle in 2010.

Card Factory sold more than 285 million cards in the year to 31 January, a period when revenues grew 9 per cent and underlying earnings lifted 9.2 per cent to £80.4m.

The company, which is headquartered in Wakefield, has enjoyed an unbroken record of like-for-like sales growth since its formation in 1997.

It also has an online offering selling personalised cards and gifts, as well as an in-house printing facility and 
warehousing capacity of more than 360,000sq ft.

Despite the woes of rival Clinton Cards in 2012, chief executive Richard Hayes said he believed that, with the average Briton buying 30 cards a year, there was significant potential for growth.

“The scale, resilience and continued growth of this market reflect the fact that the giving of physical cards is and will remain ingrained in UK culture,” he said. “Our store roll-out strategy is well proven, with an average of 50 store openings per annum over the past ten years, and we see the potential for significant further store portfolio expansion.”

The company said it will also look to gain a greater share of the online market for personalised cards and gifts through its existing presence.

Geoff Cooper, who was chief executive of building supplies firm Travis Perkins from 2005 until last December, has been appointed as non-executive chairman.

Meanwhile National Accident Helpline aims to raise £50m in its flotation on the Alternative Investment Market to help grow its market share in the personal injury claims sector which is worth £3bn in the UK.

The business was established in 1993, and works by connecting claimants, who have been injured in accidents, with specialist law firms.

It says research suggests that claimants in the UK personal injury litigation market often have limited knowledge of how to seek redress and are not comfortable contacting lawyers directly.

The business generates more than 200,000 consumer inquiries a year, which are passed on to the law firms on its panel. Last year, it generated revenues of £39.7m and reported an operating profit of £9.8m. Fat Face and B&M are among other store groups expected to come to market this year.